Yuri Gripas / Reuters

I’m Not Leaving the Republican Party

“Trump has inflicted wounds on the GOP that will take a long time to heal,” Jay Caruso wrote recently. “But I am not about to abandon the party as a result.” The GOP, he argued, is still best suited to lead the country.


While I understand and respect this writer’s want to return to the traditional principles of the Republican Party, these are principles that the GOP has long abandoned, culminating with Trump. Yes, there are holdouts and exceptions within the Republican Party. However, the leadership of the GOP in Washington and most prominent members throughout the states have irreparably damaged the credibility of the party in their embrace of the Trumpian doctrine. Both parties require reform and neither is innocent in the lead-up to Trump. But in the GOP there are simply too many bad actors responsible to effectively separate the party from this sharp and deeply damaging decline of American policy and values. The GOP is too far gone in the tunnel of corruption to lead us back into the light.

Joshua Baum
Amherst, Mass.


The article starts with a frequently used but inaccurate characterization: “I rejected the idea that the government is best at solving problems.”

I am a Democrat. I also rejected the idea that the government is best at solving problems. That statement should never be accepted as an honest difference between the parties. It is a continuation of the partisan exaggeration of the other side.

Jim Laskey
Salt Lake City, Utah


Mr. Caruso’s article fails to answer why he believes that the Republican Party is better suited to address the large, complex, dynamic, and historic problems facing our country, both domestically and internationally. I would have appreciated more insight into the why and how of Mr. Caruso’s opinion.

Citizens of the U.S. are presented with two political parties, which for the most part seem to function in their own self-interest regardless of the consequences to our nation (see Kavanaugh Senate hearings, with plenty of blame to share between the Republicans and Democrats). I wonder when the people of the U.S. will become disgusted enough with the two political parties and demand more. Would this come in the fashion of a new political party (see Emmanuel Macron and his party in France) or a call for compromise (see No Labels and its “Problem Solvers Caucus”)?

As it currently reads, Mr. Caruso’s personal statement does not advance anything resembling a way forward. If there is more than just his gut feelings about why or how the Republican Party will lead our nation forward despite the current state of affairs within the party and the nation, I’d like to read his musings.

Todd Headden
Austin, Texas


The idea that Republicans are the ones who can lead us away from the Trump era when they are the party that has capitulated to his whims at every turn is self-evidently laughable. I respect Mr. Caruso’s convictions and I respect his right and capacity to disagree with me and others on issues. I do not respect his loyalty to a party that has remade itself in the Trumpian image. I can only hope that the GOP is held accountable for allowing the blatantly unfit man in the Oval Office unfettered access to power. Power that he uses to bully, demean, and foment animus against anyone who opposes his grossly incompetent authoritarian leanings. I find it incredibly difficult to separate any accomplishments of Donald Trump from his persona of pettiness and spite. That Mr. Caruso is able to hand wave all of that away speaks, to me, of the fact that it doesn’t really bother him that much, so long as he gets the political results he craves.

Ian Bragan
Scranton, Pa.


In my 30 years as a registered voter, I’ve been pulled toward the right and then to the left by insanely upsetting decisions made in all three branches of our federal government. But in that whole time, I’ve never changed my lack of party affiliation.

Caruso and I share many reasons for staying where we’re at, with fiscal management being a paramount factor in both our decisions. But where we don’t see eye to eye is on the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh.

The GOP could’ve easily shut out the Democrats by nominating a more worthy candidate to threaten long-standing liberal laws. It was Congress’s duty to confirm a justice who the people have confidence in. Sadly, the people do not have confidence in Kavanaugh.  

When lawmakers ignore the cries of the people they were elected to represent—whether they are affiliated with their party or not—those people resent being ignored and they remember it. Lawmakers took a huge risk ignoring the people so close to an election, so I’m anxiously awaiting the November results for the congressional incumbents who voted for Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Piper McKnight
Hayward, Calif.


I am currently a junior in high school and have found myself extremely intrigued with politics as of late. I personally identify as independent, though I certainly am left-leaning, and could find myself connecting to your statements regarding feeling at odds with others who have the same, or very similar, political philosophies. I dislike the partisan divide and feel like it’s surpassed genuine politics in favor of sheer pettiness.

Like you, I found Senator Susan Collins’s address to the Senate on the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court to be exemplary. While I still have my dislike and distrust of Justice Kavanaugh, I can recognize a fair judge when I see one, and he seems to be such a judge. Senator Collins’s speech was airtight and a great way of addressing counterclaims in a detailed, concise manner. I found your assessment of party attitudes toward Justice Kavanaugh to be quite accurate. The “exchange of fire” approach of politics today is rather concerning and seems to be more ramped up than past political trends, but I’m not exactly the world’s leading expert on this. After all, the only other election I remember was Obama’s.

I respect your ability to see when President Trump has done right, but also when he has done wrong. Your dedication to your own values despite party associations is refreshing.

Alea Denney
Keene, N.H.


It was refreshing to hear someone from the GOP who does not blindly support Trump. As a Democrat, I voted for Hillary Clinton, but the Trump presidency has opened my eyes. While I generally prefer her policies over those of Donald Trump, I can now see that a Clinton presidency would have been approximately the mirror image of what we have experienced for the past two years: Conservatives would have been relentless in their attacks (if not misogynistic), and liberals would have blindly supported her no matter what, focusing on her intelligence and experience to gloss over misdeeds. If we want democracy to survive, we have to break that cycle.

The key to change often involves understanding how we got to where we are, and I was surprised how you seem to be out of touch with how we got Donald Trump. You indicate that the base of the Republican Party changed because it observed the GOP establishment giving Obama “everything he wanted.” Give me a break. Under Obama, the Republicans in Congress became the party of “No.” Mitch McConnell even went on the record saying that his primary goal was to make Obama a one-term president. That’s how he and conservatives in Congress governed for the next eight years: Whatever Obama and Democrats wanted, they didn’t. As a result, Obama frequently pushed though progressive change by edict and executive order. Neither approach is a sustainable way to govern a nation; both have contributed to our current mess.

I was also intrigued by your unexplainable “trust” in the Republican Party to heal itself and lead the country in a new direction. By design, we have a system of checks and balances, and after Trump was elected I really hoped that the Republican Congress would keep him in check. For the most part, that hasn’t happened. Instead, through one audacious and shameless Trump moment after another, Republicans have repeatedly put party over country, willing to rationalize or look the other way. Would the Democrats have done the same? Probably.

If you really love this country and what it stands for, you must be willing to leave your political party when it goes astray. Mr. Caruso, your party has gone astray. Mine is likely not far behind.

Steven Bradley
Livermore, Calif.

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